BUSINESS

Cellphone contracts being aligned with EU to contain charge hikes

VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

TAGS: Economy, Technology

Cellphone call, text and internet charges, which in Greece are the second highest in the European Union, will be aligned across the bloc with a single telecommunications contract model, according to a decision by the European Commission.

The implementation regulation that Brussels adopted on Tuesday establishes a template for the contract summary that electronic communication service operators will have to provide to their customers as of December 2020. The summary must include the main conditions of the contract (e.g. rate information and speed of services). The Commission will decide on the type of information and its presentation to consumers, and the national regulator will enforce it.

This ruling highlights the problem recorded across the EU in telecom service contracts. As more and more features are added, matters become more complex and the frequency with which attempts are made to cheat consumers increases. Over 50 percent of complaints filed last year regarding telecom services in Greece concerned bill disputes.

On Thursday the European Commission also presented its latest report on cellphone charges in the 28 EU member-states. Drafted for the Commission by German company Empirica, the report showed Greece is the second most expensive country in the bloc, behind Slovakia. Charges in Greece, the “Mobile Broadband Prices in Europe 2019” report revealed, are up to five times the EU average, depending on the package in question. Greece is more expensive than the European mean rate in 15 cellphone service packages examined, and cheaper in just two.

Greek mobile networks respond that the charges recorded by the survey are nominal and not the actual ones, which are lower thanks to local operators’ permanent special offers. Furthermore, the charges include various taxes such as value-added tax, which in Greece are considered to be the highest in the EU.

The Empirica report also said that Greece has not experienced the same trend toward a drop in rates as has been observed in the rest of the EU. The obligation for clearer contracts might help change that.

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